Earlier this year my “Little Helper” (as seen in some of the photos throughout the site), a 45 lb rescued pit bull mix (mixed with cuteness and love), was having troubles jumping up on things. So I decided to make some fancy pet steps for my canine friend.
This is the first of three posts on making a fancy dog / pet step.
Planning and Design
When sketching some quick plans for building the dog step I kept the following in mind.
- Maximum rise and runs for the steps – did a quick post earlier that went into some standard code details on this.
- How heavy the person / dog would be. This thing is sure handy to sit on 🙂
- Height of the bed
The idea for this project was to use up some the scrap and reclaimed wood I already had laying around, and use some of my Great Grandfather’s tools.
Making the Sides
The sides are made from some 1/2 inch thick plywood because that is what I had left over from making a cabinet.
I lucked out that there was enough on that one piece of plywood to just cut it in half.
Make sure to use a sacrificial piece of wood between the plywood and the clamp holding the piece down. This keeps the clamp from damaging the softer plywood.
The saw in the picture was my Great Grandfather’s cross cut saw. When cutting with a handsaw, just take your time and blow the sawdust away as it build from the cut. That way the cut line is still visible.
The two dog step sides are sandwiched together and clamped in place for the layout marks. This is so both pieces are cut exactly the same. Even if the cut is a little off, it will be the same for both pieces.
Good thing I measured twice because I messed up the first time.
To remember what to cut out, “X” out the sections that will be removed.
When getting closer to the corner cut, remember to shift the handsaw so the cutting portion of the blade is perpendicular.
For the interior support structure for the pet / dog steps,
- 2 x 4s were resized to 1.5 inch x 1.5 inch.
- This yielded two pieces from one 2 x 4.
I did this because I had some 2 x 4s laying around. The sizes I cut these to can be picked up as stock lumber from most places.
This is where I started to work backwards. Normally the support structure is built first then the sides attached to it.
To keep the lengths consistent I used a block of wood and rip fence on the table saw and cut all the width pieces the same.
Everything was attached with glue and brad nails.
With the opposite plywood side attached it was time to start working on the other interior support pieces.
Installing Back Piece and Toe Kicks
Once everything was framed out a back piece of scrap plywood was cut to cover the back. In retrospect, this would have been a good time to put a hidden compartment in.
The pet step carcass was finished off with some scrap 1/2 inch mdf for the front of the steps.
Next will be making the step portion of the dog steps.
Making a Fancy Dog Step links.
- Part 1 – Carcass Construction
- Part 2 – Making the Walnut Steps
- Part 3 – Installing Fancy Trim, Painting and Installing the Steps
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